22 foot superpipes are intimidating beasts. For starters they’re icy, the walls seem to go on forever and they’re pretty much one of the most technically challenging things you can ride on a snowboard. Fail to hold your edge through the transition and you’ll scrub all of your speed - effectively ending your run. Add to that poor visibility and a build-up of snow in the flat bottom and you’re left with an even more menacing stunt ditch to attempt to tame.
Thankfully, the superpipe in Tignes is one of the best in Europe. Its high altitude ensures that when it is groomed for the X Games and for this year, The Brits, it is in near-perfect condition and yesterday’s Dare 2B Halfpipe competition was no exception. Even though constant snowfall made the pipe slower than normal, you couldn’t really ask for a better one. And to watch the best British pipe riders tackle the very same Superpipe that the world’s best destroyed a week before at the X Games was an experience in itself.
The standard of riding was super high right off the bat and as an added bonus we were blessed with the presence of veteran Olympian Dan Wakeham and Vancouver 2010 Olympian and Sochi 2014 hopeful Ben 'Kildog' Kilner.
Last year’s winner and #Parlklife rider Henry Shackleton rode well all day but couldn’t defend his title from the two Olympians. His run included frontside and backside 5’s, a frontside 720 and a stylish seatbelt grab. It was a strong run that earned him the bronze medal.
Dan Wakeham is always refreshing to watch ride halfpipe and went huge on his first hit with a massive method followed by a crippler and McTwist. But perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Ben Kilner, who had jetted in straight from Sierra Nevada to ride at the Brits after the most recent Olympic world cup event, that was pretty much untouchable in the finals going huge with his backside air first hit before launching into a frontside 720, Haakon flip, backside 900 and backside 540. Ben has been killing it in the Olympic qualifying events this season and has a really good shot at representing the UK once again in Sochi:
I’m feeling good and it’s good to be back. I’ve missed the last two Brits as I separated my shoulder so I’m glad to come back, win it and get the title again. I’ve just come from a world cup in Spain so it was a bit hit and miss as to whether I would be able to make the Brits but I’m here and it’s great to ride with these guys
The girls once again proved that they are not to be taken lightly in the halfpipe. Katie Ormerod, who we all know absolutely kills it on a slopestyle course, also bosses it in the halfpipe and quite simply went bigger and got more tech than the rest of the field. She’s still only 15 years old and is undoubtedly one of the UK’s brightest young talents. GB Freestyle Snowboard team head coach Hamish McKnight even went as far as to say that Katie will be the best in the world on kickers one day - a bold, (but very plausible) statement. Her run included a rad roast beef grab and big frontside 540 and was enough to beat halfpipe veteran Kate Foster in the finals:
I’m really, really happy that I won today. I was nervous at first because I haven’t ridden a full size pipe since the last Brits but I was really excited for it as well. I’m really surprised I beat Kate Foster as she’s such a great pipe rider. I’m just so happy.
Kate is certainly no stranger to the halfpipe but wasn’t quite able to land a run in the finals that bettered her highest scoring qualis run (or Katie's for that matter). Natalie Silkstone rode impressively throwing in a bunch of grabs – indy, method, stalefish, nose and tail alongside a frontside 540 and finished up in third.
The Dare 2B halfpipe competition was a fitting finale to this first edition of The Brits here in Tignes and it’s been pretty incredible to see the current cream of the crop of British snowboarding get stuck in at all of the events. We’re gutted that we’ll have to wait a full year before being back in Tignes for the Brits – it really has been a fantastic week despite the less than ideal weather.
BRITISH SNOWBOARD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2013 – DARE 2B HALFPIPE RESULTS
1st Ben Kilner
2nd Dan Wakeham
3rd Henry Shackleton
1st Katie Ormerod
2nd Natalie Silkstone
3rd Kate Foster